The former recreation director in the town of Fishkill allegedly misused as much as $50,000 generated by the town’s senior center, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The findings of the Comptroller’s audit and investigation have been referred to Dutchess County District Attorney William V. Grady.
“Senior citizens who thought they were paying for activities and events were unwittingly padding this individual’s bank account,” said DiNapoli. “This type of flagrant behavior went undetected because the town lacked basic checks and balances. I urge Fishkill officials to take immediate action to shore up internal financial controls so taxpayer funds are secure and being spent appropriately in the future.”
The town offers various services to residents through its senior center, including providing food, coffee, bingo games, and organizing paid day trips and overnight trips. The town’s recreation director is responsible for the center’s financial activities.
DiNapoli’s audit revealed the former director did not issue receipts for cash collected at the senior center and did not remit money to the town comptroller or provide reports to the town supervisor. Based on senior center revenue collections made after the former director retired, auditors project that center funds totaling as much as $26,000 in 2011 and $19,000 in 2012 may be gone.
In addition, the former director opened an unauthorized bank account which allowed her to deposit senior center funds and make undetected and inappropriate withdrawals. Auditors found the director routinely paid for overnight trips for center members with her personal credit card. The director subsequently wrote checks from the unauthorized account to herself and her husband for $3,500 more than the actual cost and she and her husband did not pay $4,600 in personal fees for the trips.
The Comptroller’s audit and investigation also revealed:
- The former director purchased items that do not appear to have been used for center activities, including: patio furniture, baby items, wine, office furniture and computer equipment;
- On the day before the former director retired, more than $20,000 of unsecured cash and checks was found in a department file cabinet with no indication that it would be remitted to the town comptroller; and
- The former director and certain senior center members and staff also failed to reimburse the town for two cruises, a trip to Las Vegas and day trips.
DiNapoli made several recommendations to the town to improve financial oversight, including:
- Review all reimbursements made to the former director and her husband and take steps to recover any overpayment of funds;
- Require all department financial transactions be conducted through the town comptroller; and
- Segregate the duties of the recreation director, or provide additional oversight, to ensure that all money collected is accounted for.
Town officials generally agreed with the audit findings and indicated they have taken steps to improve their internal financial controls. Their complete response to the audit is included in the final report.
For a copy of the report, visit: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/audits/towns/2014/fishkill.pdf
DiNapoli encourages the public to help fight fraud and abuse. New Yorkers can report allegations of fraud involving taxpayer money by calling the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-888-672-4555, by filing a complaint online at [email protected], or by mailing a complaint to: Office of the State Comptroller, Investigations Unit, 14th Floor, 110 State St., Albany, NY 12236.